‘Educate to Elevate’ Helps FirstEnergy Employees Get Degrees

The program partners with The University of Akron and Stark State College to help give customer service employees access to higher education.


(Image via The University of Akron)

UA representatives speak with interested FirstEnergy employees at an open house for ‘Educate to Elevate’ on Oct. 29

By Kaitee Horstmann, Copy Editor

The University of Akron, Stark State College and FirstEnergy Corp. are partnering on the new program ‘Educate to Elevate’ to assist FirstEnergy employees in getting higher education degrees starting in January 2020. 

According to a
UA press release, this program will give FirstEnergy customer service employees the chance to take classes in hopes of increasing career advancement and the development of a highly skilled workforce for the future of the company. 

Gary Grant, vice president of customer service at FirstEnergy, said the company found many employees have a strong interest in higher education, but the challenges of getting to class can be a problem.

By working with different local universities, “we realized we could solve potential scheduling and transportation problems by bringing professors and instructors directly to our facilities to teach after our regular workday ends,” Grant said.

“Educate to Elevate” was first presented to the
Northeast Ohio Council on Higher Education (NOCHE) in February 2019 by several FirstEnergy senior leaders whose goal was to make higher education more accessible to employees. 

(Image via The University of Akron)
Dr. Lada Gibson-Shreve, left, provost, Stark State College; Gary Grant, vice president, Customer Service, FirstEnergy; and Dr. Elizabeth Kennedy, dean of UA’s College of Applied Science and Technology.

Stark State College President Dr. Para M. Jones said they are proud to partner with FirstEnergy as this program is a great example of a company investing in its employees and talent.

“Educate to Elevate aligns with our community’s Elevate Greater Akron plan to provide educational and career pathways to advance the lives of residents and ensure local companies have a well-educated and technically proficient workforce,” Dr. Jones said. 

President Gary L. Miller said UA is also proud to work with FirstEnergy in finding solutions to needs within their workforce through positive and impactful education.

“FirstEnergy employees who complete the program will be instructed by extraordinarily talented faculty and will open themselves up to increased knowledge and ways to better do business,” President Miller said.

The program, set to begin in January, will feature accelerated, eight-week courses along with flexible hours, including evenings and online classes. 

If Educate to Elevate proves successful in Akron, Grant says there is a possibility of the program expanding to more of FirstEnergy’s locations in the northeast, allowing more employees to further their education and advance their careers.